“Late Show” host David Letterman told his audience during a taping scheduled to air tonight that he will retire in 2015.
REM’s Mike Mills, slated to perform during Thursday’s show, broke the news on Twitter, tweeting: “Dave just announced his retirement #2015 #muchlovedave”
Buzzfeed correspondent Kate Arthur tweeted: “A source close to #DavidLetterman says they knew the news would leak (live audience!), but couldn't have predicted Mike Mills, scoopmeister.”
After the news leaked out, Letterman’s representative released the following statement:
David Letterman, during a taping of tonight’s Late Show, said that he informed Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation, that he will step down as the host of the show in 2015, which is when his current contract expires.
“The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring,’” Letterman told the audience.
“I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much. What this means now, is that Paul and I can be married.”
“We don’t have the timetable for this precisely down – I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up,” he added, to a standing ovation from the audience in the Ed Sullivan Theater.
CBS, home of Letterman’s show since 1992, is expected to release a statement before tonight’s show.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the news comes right after Letterman surpassed Johnny Carson as the longest-running host in late-night TV history, factoring in his time with CBS and 11 years with “Late Night” on NBC before that.
He signed a two-year deal with CBS in late 2013 and is expected to remain through the end of that contract.
THR reports that when Letterman signed the contract, he joked that “Les (Moonves) and I had a lengthy discussion, and we both agreed that I needed a little more time to fully run the show into the ground.”
Moonves has said that, outside of Carson, Letterman was the “best” in late night and that he would have a home at CBS for as long as he wanted it.